Even in the throes of a so-close-yet-so-far soccer season, Fort Osage is keeping its collective head held high.
A Tuesday night trip to Raytown brought the Indians even more frustration – a 2-1 Suburban Middle Seven loss after Raytown scored two second-half goals, the second in the closing minutes.
That makes nine straight losses for Fort Osage, (2-15, 1-8 Middle Seven) and the sixth loss this season by one goal.
“It’s been an interesting season,” Fort Osage coach RaDel Hinckley said. “We’ve been in a lot of our games. We’re fighting hard, and I love the fight in this team. They don’t give up.”
Fort Osage showed enough fight to take a 1-0 lead into the second half. The Indians’ defense held speedy Raytown to two shots, and they took the lead when Brandon Crismon converted a penalty kick in the 31st minute.
Crismon, a senior midfielder who was tackled in the 18-yard box, fired a shot into the right side of the net as Raytown goalkeeper Jeremiah Blakely dove left.
“Colby (McDowell, a Fort Osage senior midfielder) came up to me and asked if I was 100 percent sure to take it,” Crismon said. “And I knew I could put it in. I’m just blessed to get the opportunities I’ve had.”
There would be other opportunities for Fort Osage, which forced four corner kicks in the second, but they came close to converting on few of them. Raytown (7-7, 5-6) got the equalizer in the 56th minute when Ismael Guijarro rebounded in a shot off the crossbar from J.P. Flickner.
Memo Ponce then provided the game-winner by redirecting a shot off the crossbar by Flickner in the 75th minute.
“They started to break through our trap a little bit there at the end,” Hinckley said. “And we were pressing forward, so that opened up some space, too.”
Hinckley had to make do with a bench thinned by injuries, including one to junior midfielder Xavier Sturgis on Tuesday. Sturgis, Hinckley said, had to go to a hospital for stitches after suffering a nasty gash to his head following a header.
“We’re not a horribly deep team right now,” Hinckley said. “When you’re missing some of your starting players, it’s hard to compete.”
And Fort Osage plans to keep competing until the season’s end. There are still three conference games to play, including one Thursday night at Ruskin. After that comes the postseason, in which the Indians will face Rockhurst Nov. 4 in the semifinals of the Class 4 District 14 tournament at Truman.
So Fort Osage isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.
“We really aren’t that far away,” Hinckley said. “They’re young and they’re inexperienced, but they’re growing. They’re getting better.”